Newport Gwent Dragons v Zebre, Rodney Parade, kick-off: 7.15pm
The Dragons will settle for nothing less than an immediate end to their longest losing sequence – 11 in a row since they beat Leinster 23-13 on January 29. Zebre, without an away win since completing the double over Treviso in the New Year, will hope to start where they finished at home last season, beating the Dragons 47-22 with five tries and nine goals from Carlo Canna.
Munster v Cardiff Blues, Independent Park, Cork, kick-off: 7.35pm
The last time Munster lost to the Blues one of their own had a fair bit to do with it. Robin Copeland, then pulling up trees at the Arms Park, scored one of the two tries in a 17-6 away win, the last by the capital region in Munster. They have paid a heavy price, conceding 122 points on their three subsequent visits.
Edinburgh v Scarlets, BT Murrayfield, kick-off: 7.35 pm
This one, as they’ve been saying about sport since time began, could go either way, as it has done in recent years. On two of those occasions, there has been only a point in it – 24-23 to Edinburgh last February, 29-28 to the Scarlets four seasons ago. Stand by for another close encounter between teams eager to get going after false starts last week.
Glasgow Warriors v Leinster, Scotstoun Stadium, kick-off: 3pm
Leinster in Glasgow is about as close as it gets. The aggregate scored over the last five seasons (56-48 to the Warriors) reinforces the point. There hasn’t been more than six points in it either way over that period although tries have been few and far between. There wasn’t one to be seen at Scotstoun last March when Rory Clegg outpointed Isa Nacewa 4-2 on penalties in a 12-6 home win.
Benetton Treviso v Ulster, Stadio Monigo, kick-off: 6.05pm
There was a time five seasons ago when Treviso went mighty close to doing the double over Ulster. Kris Burton’s 18-point haul helped them win 23-12 in Belfast in October 2011 before they lost the return, 23-27. The following season Treviso outscored Ulster on tries only to lose by a point. Ulster won by two and four on their two following visits before winning at a canter last January.
Connacht v Ospreys, The Sportsground, kick-off: 7.35pm
They rattled up 100 points between them last weekend in a way that nobody could have imagined. The day after Ospreys hit Zebre for 59, the champions began their title defence by shipping 41 against the Warriors. After one defeat in Galway throughout their season of seasons, the holders suddenly find themselves confronted by the unthinkable of losing twice as many at home in seven days. Normal service will either be resumed or the Ospreys will fly back to Swansea with two wins from two.